Cogan's Trade by George V. Higgins
"There's all kinds of reasons for things," Cogan said. "Guys get whacked for doing things, guys get whacked for not doing things, it don't matter. The only thing that matters is if you're the guy that's gonna get whacked. That's the only fuckin' thing."
And that right there sums up this book. This criminal world surfaces through the characters that inhabit it and how they perceive the violent events that surround them. The entire plot hovers at the edge of the story, revealed piece by piece through the various character interactions. It can be a little disorienting at first. Pages and pages of one character talking can go by that, at first glance, seem totally irrelevant to what's happening. But there in lies the beauty of the novel. The actual plot is extremely straight forward. A couple of lowlife hoods knock over a mob run card game and mob enforcer Jackie Cogan is called in to make things right. It's through the richly drawn, and vile, characters this world is seen through that makes it so much more interesting. The structure gives you a ground level view of what transpires letting you see only what the characters see, adding an unknowable danger. Just like the characters in the story, you have no idea who's around the next corner. Gritty, propulsive, and wickedly funny, Cogan's Trade is a fantastic read. Highly Recommended to fans of Elmore Leonard, James Elroy, Don Winslow, and Quentin Tarantino.